Aggies find themselves in familiar role

After winning 15 of their last 16 games, and capturing the Big 12 Tournament Championship along the way, the Aggies now find themselves in a familiar role of underdog in a regional filled with a who's who of women's college basketball teams. Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp reports live from the Ford Center in Oklahoma City after Saturday's open practice session.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—Despite being the No. 2 seed in this weekend's NCAA Regional, the Texas A&M women's basketball team finds itself in a familiar position, playing the role of the unknown underdog in a regional filled with a who's who of women's college basketball.

And why shouldn't they be?

The other three teams joining the Aggies in Oklahoma City this weekend—Tennessee, Duke and Notre Dame—eat NCAA Tournament appearances for breakfast.

Duke, the Aggies first roadblock to the Final Four in Sunday night's regional semi-final match up, is making its 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Notre Dame is making it's 13th consecutive trip and top-seed Tennessee is making its 34th consecutive appearance.

The Blue Devils have appeared in 11 straight Sweet 16s, four Final Fours and two national championship games in the past 11 years. Notre Dame has been to five Sweet 16s and two Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2001.

The Lady Vols, who are making their 29th consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 this weekend, have appeared in 21 Final Fours since 1977 and have won seven national titles in the last 20 years.

The Irish, Blue Devils and Lady Vols have a combined 63 NCAA Tournament appearances, 42 Sweet 16 appearances, 27 trips to the Final Four and eight national titles.

Not bad.

Then you have the second-seeded Aggies, which have a total—yes, a total—of five NCAA Tournament appearances in the program's history, and only one other trip to the Sweet 16 prior to this weekend (1994).

But despite what the national perception of the Oklahoma City regional may be, the Aggies belong with the Dukes and Tennessee's of the world. They have won 15 of their last 16 games in the toughest conference in the nation, including nine straight wins to close out Big 12 play and win the Big 12 Tournament Championship.

It's a long way from the 16-15 Aggies four years ago that finished 4-12 in Big 12 play, for sure. Senior point guard A'Quonesia Franklin was just a freshman in head coach Gary Blair's second year at A&M that season.

"Being a freshman and being at the bottom of the Big 12, we were out to get people and now in the Big 12 we are the target," Franklin said. "Now the target is off our back and we're out to get other people. We're going to try and go out and make a name for ourselves."

Teammate Takia Starks, who leads the Aggies with 16.9 points per game in Big 12 Conference play, likes the familiar role as well.

"I think we play better when we're the go-getters and we're the underdog. That's a role we play very well," Starks said.

Not that the Aggies needed any extra motivation to advance to their first Elite 8 in school history, but a chip on their shoulder may be the worst thing that could have happened to Duke before Sunday night's game at the Ford City.

Aggie Digest Top Stories